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Shorter wait for 1,000 BTO flats

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HDB to build selected projects before flats are sold

A total of 1,000 Build-To-Order (BTO) flats in Sembawang, Sengkang and Yishun will be made available to home buyers quicker, with a wait time of 2½ years compared with the typical three to four years.

They will be put up for sale in the second half of next year and buyers can begin collecting their keys between the fourth quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021.

In a statement yesterday, the Housing Board said this is aimed at helping young couples get their flats faster.

This is achieved not by speeding up the construction. Instead, HDB will begin building the selected projects before the flats are sold.

This is unlike the usual process where they are built to order, that is, after they have been bought.

A tender for this batch of 1,000 flats will be called this month. Construction is expected to start at the end of the year.

Property analysts told The Straits Times that these flats, with their shorter wait time, will likely be popular despite their relatively far-flung locations.

Chief executive officer of PropNex Realty Ismail Gafoor predicted: "We can expect 50 per cent more subscription for flats in these three sites (than in typical BTOs flats in the same locations)."

ERA Realty key executive officer Eugene Lim explained that the unique attributes for this new class of BTO flats - shorter waits and higher priority for first-timer applicants - make them ideal for homebuyers who need a flat quickly to start their families and are less picky about the locations.


At least 95 per cent of the four-room or bigger flats will be set aside for first-time applicants, up from the current quota of 85 per cent in non-mature estates.

Another measure to reduce the wait for home buyers is the doubling of the number of times a year when they get a shot at buying unsold units from previous sales launches.

A new sales mode, known as the Re-Offer of Balance Flats (ROF), will pool unsold units from past sale of balance flats (SBF) exercises. ROFs will take place every February and August. This is on top of SBFs, which are alongside BTO exercises in May and November.

The first ROF will take place next month, with 1,394 units. Unlike SBF, ROF applicants will not be able to pick their desired locations and will be shortlisted by computer ballot. At least 95 per cent will be set aside for first-timer families.

"This will help those with more urgent housing needs and/or are less particular about location and attributes to have quicker access to a flat," said HDB.

The two measures were first announced during the debate over the Ministry of National Development's annual budget in March.

Said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong in a blog post yesterday: "I hope the wider range of options and more regular offer of flats will help home buyers find a home that best suits their needs."